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*Updated at 8:52am*

Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week praised the UK tech sector in a video address saying it has played a vital role in helping both businesses and individuals get through the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking as he launched London Tech Week’s virtual sessions #LTWConnects, he said: “I’m delighted to invite you to virtual London Tech Week and to celebrate how the wizardry of technology has ridden to our aid during this lockdown and helped us keep in touch with loved ones, connect businesses with customers, teachers with pupils.

“There’s no one who doubts the transformative power of new technology to empower and to liberate and this is why it’s fantastic that the UK is the Tech hub of Europe.

“You’ve all been brought together again by the tractor beam of London. Today UK tech startups attract more investment than all their counterparts in the rest of Europe put together and the British Government has provided
over £1billion to help innovative firms across the country during this pandemic.”

During his opening speech the Prime Minister also explained how tech innovation will play a vital role in the formation of new trade deals currently being negotiated by the UK Government.

He added: “We’re creating a new digital trade network starting in Asia Pacific to help our firms break into new markets and negotiating cutting edge digital chapters in our free trade agreements. As we throw the Government’s weight behind our tech industry the UK will thrive with our friends to design global standards for emerging technologies so we safeguard our values – freedom, openness and pluralism.”

The PM’s inspiring speech kicked off a fascinating week for the tech community.

#LTWConnects, featured an inspirational lineup of renowned speakers, discussing the impact of the technology ecosystem on the key issues of our age including health, education, security, the future of work and the socio-economic inclusion of women and under-represented groups.

The speaker sessions preempt the main London Tech Week event which is scheduled for September.

This week’s discussions covered how UK tech is tackling our greatest challenges and the important role it will play in the world’s future, alongside bringing the power of resilience, collaboration and leadership to the
forefront.

We heard from former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Cherie Blair CBE QC, Intel’s Vice President Adrian Criddle, Ciaran Martin, CEO of the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre, and Arianna Huffington, CEO of Thrive Global, as well as many other well-known experts and influencers from tech, business and beyond.

Carolyn Dawson, Managing Director, Informa Tech, said:“#LTWConnects ignited meaningful discussion and debate around how technology is playing a key role in our global community through continued and determined innovation. The pace of change in tech and our world in general means these critical conversations have to happen now.

“We’re delighted to have secured a group of such exciting and engaging speakers from the worlds of tech, business and beyond who delivered some engaging thinking and highly newsworthy debate.”

Janet Coyle, Managing Director for Business, London & Partners added: “#LTWConnects is an opportunity to bring the global tech community together during these unprecedented times. The virtual sessions will tackle some of the most pressing topics facing the sector right now and highlight businesses that are driving change.

#LTWConnects will stimulate narratives and connections that lead into our London Tech Week festival in September (2-10) when we will continue to amplify the voices of technology and drive forward conversations. The combination of our June
and September events will continue to fuel the ambition and momentum of the tech sector that is so vital to our economy.”

Russ Shaw, Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates and Chairman, London Tech Week Advisory Committee, said: “The impact of Covid-19 has highlighted the critical role that technology will play in future society – whether keeping us safe or boosting our economy. It has brought new innovations to the fore and accelerated the growth of key verticals such as Fintech, AI, Cyber, EdTech and HealthTech, showcasing the resilience of London’s world-leading tech companies.

“By virtually convening an array of high profile speakers, #LTWConnects gives us a glimpse of what can be achieved in a digital-first world and will spark the necessary debate to ensure that technology is harnessed positively and an inclusive manner.”

In an open and honest forum for the State of Investment discussion, top VCs discussed critical insights into the current investment landscape, including challenges and opportunities of where to invest now and the role of investors in the recovery of the tech ecosystem. Key speakers included Tim Draper, Founder of Draper Associates, Mika Salmi, Managing Partner at Lakestar, and Alexsis de Raadt St. James, Founder & Managing Partner at Merian Ventures.

“I’ve historically been reticent to invest in Europe – it was once heavily regulated, it was difficult to be an entrepreneur. But
I think something’s happening now with European tech, said Tim Draper, Founding Partner, Draper Associates Session.

“There is life, there is excitement, it’s in the UK and Europe. I’m incredibly excited about what’s going on. Whenever I go to a European tech conference now, I feel the same excitement I felt in China ten years ago.”

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss Secretary of State for International Trade UK Government commented: “We are announcing a range of economic packages for different sectors, but we decided to announce tech first because we think it is an area of
huge potential.

“Tech has really shown itself to be resilient and stepped up to the plate in the last few months, keeping trade, business and investment going through the pandemic. I want the UK to be the leading global voice in digital trade and the intellectual driving force in the space, breaking new ground in trade policy and pushing forward innovative new ideas like a global single market for digital trade. Now is the time to harness our talent and potential and unleash it on the world stage. The measures announced today are an important step forwards in achieving that.”

**UPDATE from late last night**

accelerateHER Live

Accelerate her webinar screenshot

We heard from some of the world’s most exceptional leaders who discussed their vision for a new normal and how to ensure that technology companies, which sit at the heart of the future of business, lead with a gender lens. Key topics included: the state of the world for women, COVID-19 and the power of a pivot, the view from the CEO, lessons in leading through a crisis, mental health and micro-habits, cyber security and the future of work.

Moderated by Dame Vivian Hunt DBE, Managing Partner, McKinsey & Company Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former US Secretary of State & Presidential Candidate Cherie Blair, CBE QC

Session in Brief: This session went far beyond the headlines as they shared their personal and professional journeys navigating the male-dominated realms of business, politics, and law. They discussed the systemic barriers facing women around the world and at every level of society, the challenges around juggling careers with family and other responsibilities, the generational differences between women in industry, and what intersectionality means at a leadership level.

Standout Quote “Our political divisiveness has been rooted in the fear that if others advance that must mean that they will regress. With technology today that is absolutely not the case. Advances in technology connect us around the world and give you the opportunity to be more entrepreneurial, more philanthropic and more creative. It’s not taking anything away from anything else. Progress in human rights, women’s rights, and civil rights is not a zero-sum game.” Hillary Rodham Clinton

Black Lives Matter: Leading with Action in Tech

Black lives matter action in tech webinar screenshot

Session in Brief: This session featured four Black women leaders in the tech and business sector for an honest, open discussion about the changes that the tech industry needs to implement to enable racial equity beyond the hashtags. As well as exploring the challenges Black women in tech face throughout their careers, the panel shared deliberate actions leaders and allies can take right now to address inequality and racial discrimination – from funding to HR practices that hold organisations accountable for delivering change.

PANEL Moderated by Abadesi Osunsade, Founder & CEO, Hustle Crew Dr. Anne Marie Imafidon MBE, co-Founder & CEO, Stemettes Deborah Okenla, Founder and CEO, YSYS Karen Blackett OBE, UK CEO, GroupM

Standout Quotes “Leaders are uncomfortable talking about race. But they don’t have to talk – they can just do the listening.” Karen Blackett “The people with the most privilege right now have the most power to drive change. Whatever you don’t do to address this will mean a default to the status quo.” Abadesi Osunsade